Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All

foe_en_s4_b22.jpg

Trinity (Apple II) artwork

Trinity (Apple II) review


"Infocom's text adventures were usually better at being funny than serious. For example, Zork I and II were better games than Zork III. But Trinity, based on your efforts to prevent the first atom bomb from exploding, works, and staggeringly well. It places you, as a tourist, in Kensington Gardens, with the first missile of World War III about to land. You find a deformed lady, take an interesting transport to the shore, and enter a white door you'll see again later, to wind up in a place ..."



Infocom's text adventures were usually better at being funny than serious. For example, Zork I and II were better games than Zork III. But Trinity, based on your efforts to prevent the first atom bomb from exploding, works, and staggeringly well. It places you, as a tourist, in Kensington Gardens, with the first missile of World War III about to land. You find a deformed lady, take an interesting transport to the shore, and enter a white door you'll see again later, to wind up in a place called the Wabe.

This surreal between-world connects to six other locations, depending on which white mushroom-door the world's sun reveals, the final one being Los Alamos in the forties. Animals seem to want something, a mysterious voice (you never do find its identity) encourages you vaguely, you have a Klein Bottle that disrupts the landscape, and you have other predators to dismantle. But here is the biggest puzzle: how do you get to the side locations and get back out, before an atomic bomb explodes there? Each one has a critical item and has even greater urgency than in Kensington Gardens. The first time in, you'll probably get stuck in these places. Then you'll solve one, or you'll think you'll solve one, and the door back to the Wabe will be blocked.

And that is a theme throughout the game of Trinity, that you can't quite do enough to change things exactly as they need to be. It's not the parser's fault, or yours, or society's. The items seem so hopelessly nonviolent, but often you have to use them against each other, or themselves, or animals in the Wabe. Communicating with animals nonverbally or forcing them to do certain things is important, and the descriptions clue you into what to do, up to some irregular verbs for a text adventure.

There will be places you know something's not quite right, where you know a puzzle is based on a popular myth or common knowledge, or even that you have limited turns to do B once you've done A, but you can't quite figure how to get through it. For example, in the Wabe, your game score from solving puzzles may initially rank you as a tourist. Then you solve a few puzzles, and you're an Explorer. Maybe you missed something in the seemingly-easy England scene?

As Trinity goes on, you meet characters and animals who will die after you jump back in the white doors. Some you'll kill yourself to reach the time-portal to Los Alamos, where you must sneak around the guards to disable the bomb. Even dying provides a clue to how to get there, and once you are, it becomes a race against time. This part is probably harder than the Wabe, and again, the radio voices as authorities track you down provide you with clues as to the ending. Shortly after disrupting the blast, you realize that you can only hope to contain the damage, just as at the other bomb sites.

If you can only play a few Infocom games, Trinity must be at the top, because it is an emotional polar opposite of everyone's favorite, Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Both start in England with the Earth's destruction imminent. They offer time travel, quirky puzzles, and well-imagined terrains. It relies on literature, in this case classic and not contemporary, but little else is similar. In Trinity, you generally avoid finger-pointing at the powerful and stupid, and you learn about death instead of clever slapstick trivia.

While both games end with a mixture of hope and futility, they couldn't be more different in how they get there. Trinity manages to be understated, to add the additional sense of helplessness of solving puzzles to what is already a difficult story--of the creation of the atom bomb, of how it seemed inevitable, and how much of it you can stop, with both time-travel technology and magic on your side. As it manages to steer clear of cold-war rhetoric or reactions to it, focusing on the ethereal Wabe and a hide-and-seek game against soldiers doing their duty, it is still relevant today.

Rating: 9/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (June 12, 2009)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by aschultz
Jones in the Fast Lane (PC) artwork
Jones in the Fast Lane (PC)

Jones isn't perfect but offers revealing rat-race insights beyond the densely-packed jokes that never get cynical or fluffy. I found myself calculating how to cram in quick cheap education before week's end, or even working way more than I needed to or putting off asking for a raise (yes, it's just a game. Yes, ...
Bikkuriman World: Gekitou Sei Senshi (NES) artwork
Bikkuriman World: Gekitou Sei Senshi (NES)

It showed me that, yes, RPGs can transcend language. Maybe none can as well as your average puzzle game. But BW has lots more fun trying and getting far closer than expected.
Circus Caper (NES) artwork
Circus Caper (NES)

I felt little guilt replaying through it with cheats on, and I recommend anyone who wants to check it out do the same...But fortunately the cheap deaths will fade away much sooner than the bears on unicycles and such instead.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Trinity review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
zippdementia posted January 01, 2010:

If you liked this you should try Activision's Zork Nemesis. I'd love to see a review of that from you, Aschultz.
board icon
aschultz posted January 02, 2010:

I've always wanted to. Thanks for the reminder! I just need to find a cheap copy of it, and there I go.

It'd be a good Z game for the Alpha Marathon, too :).
board icon
CoarseDragon posted January 05, 2010:

I am wondering what other Infocom games you have played? I have played many other Infocom games like the Wishbringer series, Zork series and Planetfall series.

Sorry to say I found your review difficult to read and I'm not really sure why. Some parts parts made a point and other parts seemed to be sort of an "add-on" or stray though you felt you needed to add. Maybe because I never played or heard of this game it makes your story seem discombobulated, I don't know.
board icon
aschultz posted January 05, 2010:

No problem. Feedback topics are for criticism, and I do want to be able to get things across to people who haven't played the game. That's where most people are able to. I see some stuff I could clean up, so maybe I'll look at that.

The game is deliberately unclear, or poetic, and it makes for an unusual entry. It's about more than getting a final score, or solving a case, or routing a bad guy. Trinity basically tries to give the feel of what it's like to try to stop the atom bomb, and the semi-futility of it, without really taking sides. It's almost a text adventure in pantomime, since nobody really talks.

I've pretty much written about all the Infocom games I played when I was younger & don't quite remember the list. However, I played through them all with a walkthrough and some are actually on my Alpha Marathon list, though I need to approach them without a quick solution.

The games are possible to find. The WinFrotz z-interpreter can run them. I think zork 1-3 are freeware as is Hitchhiker's Guide. The others...are available, but can't give details on this board I suspect.

ETA: I don't think I brought Leather Goddesses of Phobos over from GameFAQs. Hated that game. The humor wasn't my style.
board icon
CoarseDragon posted January 05, 2010:

Actually I still have my C64 and a whole stack of those games but I really have not played them for quite some time now.

I too seem to recall not liking Leather Godess. I know I didn't play it very long. Something about a blender is the last thing I remember.

I'll have to try Trinity sometime. Sounds a bit enigmatic though.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Advertise | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Trinity is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Trinity, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.